Hello friends, awesome news alert. I am proud to announce that I am going to be a Professor for the ‘I’m An Author Academy’ – an exciting new venture alongside some wonderful creatives that will guide the authors of tomorrow by sharing our wisdom and lessons learned over the years.
Together we are going to be there for those who want to evolve from from just saying they are an aspiring author to I’m An Author!
So what is the I’m An Author Academy all about and where did this come from? Well, last year and through social media I connected with fellow author and Instagram Royalty Emma Jean who approached me and two fellow authors with this incredible idea. That idea being to pass on everything we have learned on our journey and as a collective our skills range from writing, publishing, marketing, blogging, social media-ing to even podcasting.
Right now, we are working behind the scenes to put together content while Emma Jean is putting in ahuge amount of work and effort to bring this academy to life. For those who frequent this blog will probably recognize her name as the author who wrote Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code which I reviewed last year.
And here is some more information about the fellow authors who will be joining me as Professors.
Emma G. Rose is a multi-published author who also hosts the brilliant Indie Book Talk Podcast which I highly recommend you listen to especially if you are a supporter of indie authors!
To be included in this wonderful group is probably one of the biggest compliments I’ve received on this writer journey and also a testament to how effective indie publishing and social media can be for connecting with others. This generation of social media creatives is incredibly important for the future of books and publishing so it’s imperative we pass on as much as we can to help it grow and evolve. Our combined efforts make us quite a team.
You can expect to hear a lot more soon as the full website for the I’m An Author Academy will be launching but here’s the landing page. Be sure to check out the Academy’s Instagram page and make sure you give it a follow – your support is very much needed and of course, appreciated.
It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to talk about mental health. We are human after all and life can be less than kind every so often, not to mention difficult. The modern world of social media and what’s happening outside our windows can take its toll, even on those who might appear strong. Here at the Hall of Information we stand with anyone who is suffering or feeling the affects from their own mental health. We also support anyone who wants to talk about it.
None of us are anything without our minds and to me its important to acknowledge that we can get down about even the most trivial of things. It’s important to acknowledge that depression, anxiety and the wider mental health struggles many of us face, do exist. I’ve suffered from anxiety in recent times, just from being busy and having a lot on my to-do list which is totally normal and okay. It has affected my sleep and my productivity but I’m doing better now. Triggers come in many different forms for everyone, from a bad day at work to an unexpected bill in the mail to even a bad interaction online.
To have a reaction to something that triggers our mental health is normal and valid. Only you know how you feel truly and if you are having a tough time, reach out if you can, reach out to me, reach out to someone, I’m always here for anyone feeling the grind and if you see someone who may be suffering, reach out to them too because it is so important that we talk about our mental health – our lives are so precious and what we all offer to this world is unique to ourselves.
There is only one you, remember that. Some day, what you give to this world could bring light to someone’s darkness.
Writing and publishing a book is an incredible achievement and then comes the daunting task of actually selling it to readers. The truth is, that part is really hard sometimes and finding ways to sell online and through social media really is a challenge.
Marketing is often dismissed by authors because they tend to think they are no good at it and that’s okay. For many years I thought I was terrible at cooking until I followed a coherent and simple recipe to realise with some practice and effort, cooking isn’t that hard. The same can be said about book marketing. With some perspective and a little consistency, selling books online is possible and even fun. I’m someone who regularly sells their books through social media and I’m going to share with you my lessons and observations that will hopefully help you.
We will look in detail at using social media as an author and selling books online while also analysing why some authors struggle.
Whether you are self or trad published, you’ll probably appreciate the work that goes into firstly putting a book together and then the wider journey of marketing. Authors are expected to do a lot of that work but there is a slight misconception or at least a lot of advice that is over simplified or out of date.
‘Write a book and share it to your social media audience – Instant Sales‘
This statement although paraphrased is probably why a lot of us fail or at least feel like selling books is a struggle. Oversimplified advice from 2009 is just a Google search away and social media tends to echo stuff like this. On Twitter, authors in their droves share their book links every day and then newer authors see that and do the same and so forth. The truth is, and I realised a while back is this:
Just because your book exists and is published doesn’t mean it will sell a single copy. Take that expectation away and your view on the whole deal will be a lot easier. I know you worked hard and I know you love that story which is okay because the first person who should appreciate a good book is you. But to me, most of the time, dropping that link on social media is in vain. Yes there will always be exceptions and there will even be some that live by dropping their links but from my experience, I sell my books with the link holstered most of the time. Dropping links can still be valid on occasion but it does tend to bury my engagement on twitter at least.
Analogy: Just because there is breathable air doesn’t mean your body will just absorb it. You need to work for it by using your lungs and wider circulatory system to deliver that breathable stuff around your body. I know lungs function mostly without us being conscious of them but you hopefully get my point. And so the same can be said about that book of yours. Social media is an opportunity to make readers firstly aware of you and then your work. I like to say social first and media second.
The Basics: You and Your Book
Social and media are two separate entities and so are the basics in book selling which are you and your book. Firstly when it comes to social media, conduct takes precedence over anything else. And by this I mean day to day behaviour and general presence. Attitude good or bad sticks out on the platforms and for Twitter where I spend most of the time, it is quite easy to read between the lines of someone’s profile and tweets to gauge their attitude. I often have authors interact with me who say they are struggling with sales and have tried ‘everything’ for me to see their recent interactions were arguments, heavy opinion and generally an attitude that doesn’t help their image. Or their recent activity is just book links over an extended period of time.
While it can be great to share and of course freedom of speech is something I support, social media tends to make you visible and that is both good and bad. Being an author in particular will put you in a glass house sometimes, especially if someone takes offence to what you have said. Now you are published it is time to really really think about what you say online.
Over the years I have conducted my own set of rules when it comes to being an author on social media. These include:
No real heavy opinion on anything that can lead to passionate discussion/arguments. My seat on the fence is comfortable;
Be approachable, supportive and mindful for others and mindful of what I am posting at all times;
Do my best to inspire, inform, entertain or give some level of value;
Be consistent – show up regularly.
If you follow most of these basics, you will eventually find followers which in turn may become readers. And the wonderful thing about social media is the quick results – when you post something you’ll pretty much know if it was good or bad by the end of a day if not sooner. Those with smaller followings may struggle with this to begin with so remember to use relevant hashtags to boost visibility. And because there are so many users on social media, there is always opportunity to reinvent yourself for newer people. This method is long term and takes time along with some patience. If you are looking to sell masses of books quickly then you are in the wrong place.
So if you conduct yourself in the ways stated above you are set for at least more positive social media interaction and visibility which go hand in hand and also contribute towards selling books eventually. The main problem we all have is spreading awareness to the masses that our books exist. We will look into the finer details of expanding visibility below but in order to sell your media or have a higher chance of it selling then it will need to have a decent anatomy.
The basic anatomy of a book is something I mention in my guide book Consistent Creative Content and if yours has it, then eventually it will sell. These are:
A stand out or unique title that fits the genre well;
A professional attractive cover;
An enticing blurb;
A reasonable price;
Editing/proofreading to the point that is reasonably practicable.
Some of the above can be outsourced for a reasonable price. I have always invested in a professional cover using the services of Design For Writers. They also offer book formatting and even website construction among other wonderful things. For some who might be on a tight budget you can find some wonderful creatives online who might even help you for free – my most recent release was proofread and beta read by some awesome connections I have made online and for free.
The Everyday Things
So you’ve got the basics and now it is time to face the daunting task that is marketing yourself and that book of yours. There are so many ways to get yourself noticed along with that book but I would suggest picking a handful of methods at a time and seeing what works. Over time you’ll find what suits you and this really is a voyage into the unknown for many.
When it comes to social media all you really have to do is stand out to get noticed. Getting noticed will result in visibility and visibility will equal sales or engagement .
Easier said than done right? But how?
I turn up on social media every day. I keep my visibility boosted by using Twitter and have built a following of over 20,000 by putting in the time. The majority of that following trust me and have got used to me being there all the time – I’m not addicted honest…
These Everyday things increase my visibility:
Timing – know and understand when the majority of your following is online – this is huge for visibility;
Visual content such as screenshots of recent reviews, excerpts, book banners and covers, paperback selfies or pictures, memes – variety is key here and don’t over share the same thing;
Well wishing/positivity – reaching out to your following and hoping they have a good day will bring you closer to your followers and increase engagement on your posts. This also proves that you are human and when everyone else is sharing book links a little variety of the pleasant kind can be nice;
Supporting others – being supportive of a fellow follower is a great way to earn trust, get some visibility for you and others while also building some trust. Plus for me it feels good helping others;
Reply back when you can – this became a revelation for me but if someone puts in the effort to comment on your post, do you best to think of a reply, even a simple ‘thank you’ will help boost both parties;
Sharing links in a tactical way – Instead of sharing a link on a post or tweet I either drop it in the comments/replies below or tell my audience that it can be found via my bio/profile – this is huge on Twitter especially;
Use relevant hashtags – there was once a time where I would always include hashtags on all of my posts and they help boost visibility. These include #writingcommunity #author #booktwitter #booktwt #writerscommunity
Book Selling Related Solutions
Having all of the above will eventually and most likely lead to sales but what about specifics? Here are some things you can try to help sales:
Run a price promotion – from a free promo to a price reduction they are usually effective with some advertising and the right terminology (today only);
Share a plethora of content about your book – from cover art and banners to the blurb and even the first page, this stuff makes for some great material to attract readers;
Write a stand alone book – marketing the 3rd or even 2nd book in a series is difficult and attracting new readers is a huge challenge. A stand alone story will eventually attract new readers. This also naturally leads into having more books available will increase the chances they sell.
The Longer Term
Time sits above everything and I firmly believe there are no real quick fixes to selling books on social media unless you have stacks of cash you are willing to throw at it and even then there is no guarantee. Over many years and books I have grown towards regular sales, reviews and social media followers by spending time doing the above. It isn’t easy and there are so many authors like you and me who want the same thing. Even that can help us because our togetherness sometimes makes us stronger.
Social media is an opportunity to succeed but requires work to figure it out. If you really want readers and success then you’ll find a way to get there. Find your crowd, earn their trust and stay visible – these things will eventually help you sell books. Of course there are always exceptions that are good and bad. Try and keep trying because eventually you will succeed. That’s all I have done and here I stand selling books on average every two to three days.
This post is long enough without really dipping into the physical selling side of being an author and I run the risk of repeating already published information which can be read on this site for free. Below you’ll find some links to guides that I have created through the many lessons I have learned over years. Thank you for reading!
The following guides will help with physical book selling:
And for those who want a more detailed view of my journey, this book lays out how I published 6 books in 5 years and how I use social media to sell them regularly. Available now in both paperback and digital.
Writing guides that help fellow authors, bloggers and social media-ers has become a vital pillar of my content in recent times. There’s a reason why this here blog is followed by over 900 good souls. Helping others also feels good and then seeing them succeed via some of my advice is even better. This post is dedicated to the top 5 guides I have put together this year, most of which are centered around book promotion, selling and social media.
5. Let’s talk about… why your book isn’t selling…
Viewed an impressive 400+ times this year, this post is dedicated to helping authors find all kinds of ideas to sell their books before and after publication. You can read the whole thing here.
4. How I landed another deal with Bookbub
Those who have been around a while will know that this year a major turning point came for me in the form of a BookBub Featured Deal for my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’. 10,000+ people downloaded it in a single day. Shortly before the promo run I put together this detailed guide on how I got the featured deal. And for those asking, a BookBub featured deal really is worthwhile.
3. Book Promotion Results: April 2021
April 2021 serves as a record holder for so many things. It was my first $100 royalty month, it was also the month where my highest amount of paid sales happened in a single day. This guide highlights how I did it.
2. 10 ways to sell a book without dropping the link on social media…
This one always gets a lot of attention and you might have seen me sharing the link for it on Twitter rather ironically. Link dropping is a rather interesting subject on Twitter and this guide shares how to sell books without dropping a link. With a viewership of over 500 its one of my best performing posts of the year and probably will be for some time. You can read it here.
1. A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites
Any my most viewed guide of 2021 is a list that many authors including myself use as reference, hence the fact it will probably be evergreen. I update it regularly too and book promo sites are a wonderful way of advertising your books. Check it out here.
And if you are looking for more guidance on authoring, blogging and social media-ing I have a guide book which is coming to paperback in the next few weeks.You can find more information here.
Ah, the freebie, a normally guaranteed way to stir any type of consumer interest or so they say. This post will look in detail at the free e book promotion – something I know a thing or two about because since being published in 2016, I have run the free book promo 14 times… Yikes, that may sound like a big number but spread out over 5 or so years it has served me quite well. Let’s talk about it…
By definition, the free book promotion to me is the concept of setting the price of an e book to zero. This can best be achieved through Amazon KDP and if your digital book is enrolled in KDP select then you are allocated up to 5 optional days every period to list that book for free. I have highlighted the ‘optional’ part because although 5 days seems like a good amount, in my eyes the shorter amount of time a book is free, the better – this taps into the whole impulse purchase and urgency thing which is quite important in selling anything. Creating a sense of impulse and urgency in a free promotion will increase the likelihood somebody will want to download your book.
So, is a free book promotion worthwhile?
There are plenty of authors I know who will never offer their work for free and that’s fine in my eyes. I suppose its a case of weighing up your individual options against the factors for success. For me, I don’t earn a living through the books I have published, in fact I am nowhere near that yet, so making money as a self-published author right now is not on my wish list. But gaining a readership is and if my free promotion is executed effectively then that is exactly what will happen, eventually, in theory, maybe…
This whole thing is subjective, so remember everyone’s situation is different.
I tend to use the word eventually in most of my author situations because this really is a long game and hopefully with my results below you’ll see that. Before we look at the results which have improved over time, there are several factors as to why a free promotion can be a success. Here are the main ones:
Type of Advertising/Budget
Probably above everything else, the who and how much you spend will dictate a lot of a book promo’s success. Higher end book promo advertisers also have higher quality readers who leave reviews like BookBub. Budget will also determine how much reach it will have. In my eyes, for a free promo, I’m going all in so the money I spend will be returned eventually through reviews, readers and even social media follows. You can find some of the book promo advertisers I have used here.
The second major factor in all book promotion is combining different methods – what I mean by this is perhaps playing around with the price/advertisers/books available. This is where book promotion runs can be deemed a success or not. In the many times I have run promos I have also reduced the price of other books or even advertised the free book before and after a promo. Just free is great, but other combinations are even better. I nearly always ‘stack’ my promotion too – this means using multiple advertisers over several days.
Social Media Reach/Activity
The higher and more engaged your social media following, the better it should be for any promotional stuff. Me; I’m pretty much addicted to Twitter and my following of nearly 20k does help. At a glance, the more you put into social media over time, the more you get back. If your profile gets bigger, more people are going to be interested in your work. Building trust over time online will create a fanbase eventually. How? Here’s a guide for that.
Genre/Time of Year
A wintery ghost romance probably won’t sell much in the height of summer but it will during the autumn and winter months. Genres and seasons do tend to go hand in hand. From late September all the way to Halloween works really well for horror and thrillers.
Length of Promo
I mentioned above that being enrolled in KDP Select will allow you up to 5 days every enrollment period to use for free promo but the shorter the promo run, the better. Impulse and urgency sell books that are on a price promotion.
Most of my free promotion runs saw better results after a certain amount of reviews. There is no fixed number but having over 5 will help a little. The more reviews a book has the better in theory. In terms of ratings, anything over 3.5 stars average rating should do quite well also.
My top book promotion advice is to have more books available and the more you have on your shelf the more a potential reader will invest in you. Even if their first read from you is free, if the experience is enjoyable then they may just return as a paying reader next time.
Make it Easy for the Crowd
Have you ever offered a physical book or two for free to your social media audience? From a signed paperback to an advanced e copy? Was the response mostly crickets and you weren’t sure why? There’s something about singling people out and then offering them something because every so often it doesn’t work. People don’t tend to like being singled out and so a free e book promo makes everyone feel part of a crowd with way less reader pressure.
We’ve looked at the factors now let us look at a few real life free book promo examples. When I ran my first free promo back in 2017 it was kind of a stab in the dark. Something I have tried to improve over the years… (the book selling, not actual knife things…).
Scenario 1 (2017)
Book Title: Open Evening + Darke Blood (Both Free)
Amount of Amazon Reviews: 6 (UK only)
Length of Free Promo: 5 Days
Books Published: 2
Budget Spent on Advertising: $70
Social Media Following:
Open Evening Free Downloads: 713
Open Evening Paid Sales After: 12
Darke Blood Free Downloads: 144
Darke Blood Paid Sales After: 29
A very good first attempt at a free promo. Although pricey, 800+ free downloads and then paid sales after for both books was a win in my eyes. Turning a profit at this stage is difficult and not a priority. This was a good entry level free promo and to me anything over 500 free downloads for a book is good. You can read in a little more detail about this promo here.
Scenario 2 (2019)
Book Title: Darke Blood (with ‘The Teleporter’ free on the final day)
Amount of Amazon Reviews: 10
Length of Free Promo: 3 Days
Books Published: 4
Budget Spent on Advertising: $100
Social Media Following:
Darke Blood Free Downloads: 3,403
Darke Blood Paid Sales After: 2
The Teleporter Free Downloads: 88
An excellent result. 3000+ downloads for any book in that space of time is huge. Capped off with the last minute free promo of The Teleporter on the final day – this proved my theory of eyes being on any other book you have published during a free promo – remember combinations? That’s a major factor for success which you’ll see in the third and final scenario. You can read my detailed report on this promo here.
While the above two scenarios are impressive in terms of numbers, the free promo gets more valuable when you have more books available. By the time of the next scenario (April 2021) I had 6 books available, 4 were part of a series and the free promo and a book series go hand in hand for combination stuff. This next scenario is also after my BookBub Featured Dealwhich was also a free promo and resulted in 10,000 downloads of The Teleporter in a day. Time is your friend with this stuff and you’ll see how my results shifted below.
Scenario 3 (2021)
Book Title: Open Evening with rest of the series discounted to 99 cents or equivalent
Amount of Amazon Reviews: 27
Length of Free Promo: 1 Day
Books Published: 6
Budget Spent on Advertising: $165
Social Media Following:
Open Evening Free Downloads: 940
Open Evening Paid Sales After: 2
Paid Sales of other books in the Series on that day: 176
Total Paid Sales that month: 230 – A record that still stands today.
You can see from the results that the free promo kind of takes a different role because the other books in the series all sold from that initial visibility. You can create a series page on Amazon that links all books in that series together – let Amazon do the work with this, they have the infrastructure so take advantage. Paid sales pushed all of my books up the charts and to better visibility and the best thing is this book promo broke even the next month. April 2021 was my first $100 royalty month and then the second was May. You can read about this promotion here.
Often overlooked is the concept of e book page reads with can be tracked via the KDP sales dashboard. As you can see from mine and historically they have spiked and even sustained after every promo run since 2017. With more books and promos this can become quite an opportunity while also tracking results.
From the scenarios and factors laid out before, you can make a free promo very worthwhile. Of course there have been plenty of not so great promos but they are all part of the journey. You just need a backlist, a budget and some tactics. So in conclusion and for an effective free promo, these things work well:
Minimum time – 1 or 2 days work fine. Impulse and urgency. Think of it as an occasion;
More books helps sell all involved. Discounted prices if its a series. Combinations;
Paying for advertising – kind of a no brainer, plenty of good book promo sites out there. Stack them over some days;
Social Media Following – helps but not essential;
Reviews – Some reviews help.
There are always a few anomalies and variables for the individual but everything laid out above should help to sell books. I have found running a free promo works best every quarter or so and over time it can help grow a readership. These days my book sales are regular and mostly at full price all because I started with the free promo some years ago and built a foundation from it.
Thank you for reading. What are your experiences with the free promo?Any lessons or thoughts?
If you enjoyed this post I have stack of more promo scenarios in my author/blogger guide book which is available now!
Announcement Alert. Coming this December and due to popular demand I am proud to say Consistent Creative Content will be coming to paperback!
Perhaps it was an oversight for me to offer this book in just digital format to begin with butin that time I have learned many of my readers still appreciate that feeling of holding a real book in their hands. Due to that demand I have taken the plunge of converting my guide book into paperback and it will be available from mid December – just in time for gift season!
Do you know a budding author looking for a guiding light in the daunting industry of self publishing? Is the blogger in you ready to dive in but not sure where to start? Do you want to learn how to leverage your social media following into sales?
Consistent Creative Content would make the perfect gift for any writer at any stage because it is packed full of modern resources for the modern writer. Below you will find various snippets and other cool things about the book. Rock and roll man!
Twitter presents a wonderful opportunity for anyone to find success on social media. Whether you are looking to make friends or sell content, everything on Twitter revolves around connecting with others. This Campfire Analogy explains how you can reach others and find success on Twitter.
So you’ve set up a small campfire on the edge of some woods (you’ve created a Twitter profile).
This nice spot is adjacent to a path, that path is then connected to a much wider path where people walk, jog, cycle and appear along frequently. (Basically the wider twitter community, no specific demographics)
You begin to talk to yourself while the small fire crackles away. There is a little warmth but other than the low hum of your quiet voice it’s pretty desolate.
You then talk a little louder (your tweets are specific to your interests, if you’re an author you use the writing community hashtag).
It might feel like you are talking to yourself but that busy path is ever so near. (it feels like you are talking to yourself. This is normal for a while)
A little time passes and someone along that wider path hears you talking (the hashtags amplified that voice of yours).
This person then moves onto the path adjacent to that campfire of yours, (you’ve attracted the attention of a specific demographic you’ve got something in common with).
You talk to this person as they have just replied to you. (they commented on your tweet). It was a brief but a pleasant exchange. This passer by then decides to come off that path and sit at your campfire (congratulations, you’ve just earned a follower).
Because this follower responded to something you said, you now tweet more about the subject you exchanged engagement with. You also talk directly to them (you follow them back).
Other passers-by begin to hear this follower talking to you and some at the very least stroll past the campfire. This one follower has sat at a few campfires before and those who he sat with can see the engagement you are having, (mutual followers of that first follower see your tweets in their feed).
You keep talking and exchange engagements. Some of these mutual followers have now walked by and sit at your camp fire. You talk to them also (follow each other). These folks even bring their own logs and the fire grows in brightness and warmth (more engagements happen, subjects range).
More folks who have been to other campfires see your campfire is a two way conversation and come to sit by it. (Your following steadily increases because you are talking and including them and you are present consistently over time).
The subjects you talk about are interesting and engaging. More passers-by join the congregating people already by your now roaring fire. You’re going to need more seating soon but you keep talking because these passers-by have become important connections. They have invested in you and trust you because your word is good and honest which started literally with you talking to a campfire. How do you know what to talk about everyday – you get better at this the more you do it. It even feels warm inside…
Some of these passers by now want more from you and so they see you have a product or service available that they know will be trust worthy or will at least provide something which will make them feel good, (You’ve grown your own algorithm of trust over time, as an author or content creator these followers buy from you).
You share with these fellow camp fire members how you got to this point. They eventually take on some of what you have learned and in their spare time they go and start their own campfires and the cycle continues, (you see others being successful at twitter also, they didn’t give up and kept talking also).
Although this is a specific analogy in a perfect scenario, it highlights the importance of being social no matter where you start.
This post is inspired by another guide which you can read here. Thanks for stopping by!
Even though this Hall of Information is a blog and journey in publishing, its not always going to be about that, and the more diverse your content, the higher chance that passing trade will read it. Now this may contradict my overall advice about branding, but you are the creative boss in all this and diversity in content is sometimes a good thing. In my case, at the time of starting this blog, I was writing science fiction books which are yet to see the light of day, so I needed separate consistent creative content that casual readers could just pick up. More importantly, I needed to write posts that a wide array of readers could relate to.
This can be quite a hurdle for some and might take organisation, depending on how creative you are. Thinking of what subjects could possibly be appealing and compelling for a reader is a challenge. These days, while I have some structure, my ability to think on my feet has improved. As an author who writes with no real plan I’ve become adept at ‘making it up as I go along’ when it comes to some of my blog content. This method isn’t for everyone and it wasn’t always that way for me either. If you do adopt that method, your ability will improve over time by the act of doing – like all writing.
Over the next few years after my first blog post I managed to channel my interests and experiences of life into content. While I did continue to blog about writing and pondering whether I should self-publish, the Hall of Information still needed to operate regularly and be able to reach out to a wider audience.
Readers don’t always want to hear about one thing, variety is a key factor in producing consistent creative content.
It’s easy for me to say consistent creative content but what am I actually referring to? Although these may appear obvious, here is a list of basic blog content ideas that will reach wider audiences:
I have highlighted the last two because back when I began blogging there were two subjects I did not think much about or even cover yet proved instrumental to the success of my blogging endeavours and wider writing career. If both are executed right they can be social and lead to better connections across social media.
My Weekly Ramble blog post is a regular diary style account in a few hundred words of what’s currently going through my mind or a reflection of what’s happening in the world. It’s written in a way where each entry stands alone and over the years I have covered many subjects, from receiving less than satisfactory book reviews to the advantages of being a part of the wider writing community. It’s an opportunity to blog, vent and hopefully reach someone who cares. It’s also written in an inclusive way so I confide in my reader – including others is a fun way of still talking about yourself without feeling guilty or being boring. My weekly ramble post is normally the best viewed article of the week.
Book reviews are a key part of my blogging.
*When it comes to politics and heavy opinion, these are subjects I would advise you steer clear from early on. There are prolific bloggers out there who thrive off controversial subject matters and for those with a smaller following this sort of practice will only hurt that. Heavy opinion/political pieces also attract attention that may not be the type you want, if you want to sell books or get regular views.
This is an exclusive excerpt of authoring and blogging guide book Consistent Creative Content which is out now.
I’ve been promoting my books again and for the first time I had seven to play with. It is my belief that the more books an author has, the more promotional things one can do with them.
September 2021 served as a milestone month for me as it is five years since my words first graced publication. It is also a crucial month for many of my books as their genres tend to pick up around this time of year and look at that – a promo tip in the damn intro, horror, thriller, occult, spooky, ghosts, gothic – all of these start selling rather well from Labor Day onwards – that’s a public holiday weekend over in the US and for me the spiritual beginning of spooky season.
Like all of my previous book promo posts this will look into my plan, my results, how I got them and of course the most important part of any book promo – the longer term results. That’s part of the reason why this post has only just dropped, exclusively first on Patreon and then to the awesome followers on my blog. Let us dive in!
In any type of promo run its good to set out an overall aim while also setting a realistic or at least an achievable expectation but first of all and for beginners, what do I mean by promo run?
To me a book promotion run is when I advertise my books in order to sell them over a short amount of specific time. There are many inputs and ways to promote books and my process consists of paying for some advertisement every quarter or so while also reducing my prices to hook in new readers for just a few days. This quarterly or so method keeps sales from completely tanking to zero and while I am continually active on social media, newer readers are in theory always arriving onto my authory shores. I tend to sell books regularly via social media or mostly Twitter but not in huge numbers so I like a nice burst of sales every four or so months.
So on this occasion I would be running two price promotions simultaneously.
The e version of my debut high school creature feature horror ‘Open Evening’ would be Free to download celebrating five years since publication, for one day.
And the rest of my e books (6 others in total) would be reduced to 99 cents or equivalent for the whole of Labor Day weekend. In this category there are some books which are stand alone and others that are connected to ‘Open Evening’. Most of which are spooky season appropriate or popular all-year-round sellers.
Promo tip: Setting one book for free and advertising it will bring eyes onto all other books if you have any. Time and time again I have sold other books on my shelf while another was free. Discounting these titles pretty much guarantees some interest.
My overall aim was to sell as many books as possible to try and make an effort towards paying for the advertising I was going to use.
The Results Pt.1
The results of an effective book promotion run will last for days after the initial advertising dates but Pt.1 will look into the results of the first few days. So first of all let us look at the total.
As you can see the blue bar represents the free downloads for ‘Open Evening’ which managed 377 in one day across 6 different territories.
So that day broke a new record for me personally. This is the first time all 7 of my books were downloaded in 24 hours and every other book on my shelf although discounted made paid sales on the next day also.
Paid sales for Labor Day weekend are as follows below with my newest release and self help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ being the top seller followed by ‘Darke Awakening’ my newest release after ‘CCC’.
Let us briefly look at some chart movement which is an often overlooked part of these promo runs because good chart movement equals more visibility from passing trade.
Seeing as it was my top seller of the weekend ‘CCC’ made the best progress by hitting #10 in the Amazon US Writing Skill Reference chart which is a huge achievement because this chart is super competitive. I’m talking authors who do TedTalk’s normally head up the top spots.
Overall. I was happy with the sales of this weekend which led into several days after of sales which we will look into soon. But first let me break down what I did to get these numbers.
Methods of Promotion
My biggest tip when it comes to advertising books is to invest money. If you want serious results then you need to advertise seriously by spending. This is probably why I do this every four or so months. These days, I let my royalties accumulate and put them into advertising. It is also worth noting that being an indie author isn’t my primary source of income so I can afford to make losses financially with these promos – but to me there are no losses, just opportunity to find more readers and gain more traction as an author in the market – that’s what I’m really paying for.
Here are the book promotion sites/services I paid for:
‘Open Evening‘ – Free Booksy Horror Series Promotion. Cost $65 and this gives you an option to link all 4 books in the series which I did.
‘Consistent Creative Content‘
Bargain Booksy 99 cents Promotion. Cost $30.
Bookrunes. Cost $25
E Reader News Today – Humour Category. Cost $45.
Book Doggy. Cost £20
Total Advertising Cost: $185
As you can see my budget focused on evenly spreading the advertising. I could have run ads for every individual book but these three at the time were my most popular.
What else did I do?
Of course advertising via book promo sites is just part of my efforts. I also put out a blog post on here and various tweets throughout the weekend sharing various visual things. My Twitter following is over 15k which is a big opportunity for book sales. For those visual things I used these book banners in particular:
Book Banners are relatively easy to put together – I make my own using free stock imagers and Pixlr. Banners add just that little extra dimension to the visual appeal that may grab a potential readers attention.
The Books in my Order of the Following Series also have their own series page on Amazon – this helps for whole series visibility especially when one of the book in that series is free and the others are discounted.
Random Promo Tips:
Most book promo sites will ask you to include a brief description of the book that isn’t just the blurb. This is an opportunity to get creative and even mention that it could be a part of a series or that the rest of your works are currently discounted.
On social media think about terminology such as ‘For Today Only’ or ‘Exclusive Discount’. Stuff that embraces the gimmick of selling and stirs impulse. I always run a promo for just a few days to add a sense or urgency. Although Amazon will let you run a free promo for up to 5 days, 2 is enough.
Weekends tend to work really well post pandemic and so I like to include at least a Saturday as there is way more traffic online.
Existing reviews for a book really help sell more books – this is part of the reason why you see me put out a weekly Tweet saying how important reviews are. Most of my books have at least 15 reviews. This helps, big time!
The more books you have, the better things should be. Having just one or two books is much more of a challenge as readers tend to gravitate towards authors with more releases so get writing those books. This deal gets better with time.
The Results Pt2
Now it may seem like a paid quite a large sum to pay for some advertisement but all promo runs aren’t just about sales. Let us take a look at the most important part of a promo run – the aftermath…
From the 2 days before the promo and to the 8 days that followed I had at least 1 paid sale. This is 10 consecutive days of paid sales and new record. As you can see the rest of the month sales of the paid persuasion trickled in. Now if we compare it to the month previous…
The coloured bars may seem bigger but the numbers are drastically smaller for that month previous and this is just one of the things I am paying for with this promotion – extended visibility which in turn drives so much more.
September 2021 almost became another $100 royalty month and its not quite covered the cost of the promo but still a good portion of it has been recovered. Now let’s take a look at the wider scope in terms of royalties…
This 90 day graphic looks a little more promising but sales is not all that I am paying for because there is something else these promos drive and they are gold dust to authors and maybe worth more than a lot of money.
Reviews started appearing a few weeks after the promotional run, in fact 8 ratings for several different books came from this promo run which is a new monthly record and confirmation that this money investment was very much worthwhile. You can read a breakdown of the other reviews here.
Making money, getting more reviews, and sales takes time to master in the world of book promotion and this post is only just a snippet of years worth of work I have put in to figure all this out, that is without mentioning the work that goes into writing more books but, there is hope because this post above all shows that indie authors can sell their work and make money from it.
To me, book promotion runs are just a portion of what I do, perhaps even a small slice of a much larger cake that includes social media presence, blogging, reviewing other authors books and being a brand. There is always some work to be done in order to sell my brand and my works and remember that the more social you are on social media, the more someone will notice and eventually invest in you. Build trust and engage with others, that sells more than anything. Thanks for reading and peace out!
Let’s face it, eventually every author is going to have to swallow the medicine that is a bad review. Whether it be a low rating without an explanation to a full on dismantling of a book someone probably should have just put down. Over many years I’ve experienced every kind of review, from the ‘abandoned’ to the snarky ‘let’s try and be funnier than the book’ to even scathing borderline abuse. I have even received constructive criticism that I’ve then used to correct a typo or potential error so its not all bad and ‘bad’ may just be a stance.
Disclaimer: I will say now first and foremost that any reviewer no matter their opinion, as long as it is not abusive, is entitled to say what they feel about a book freely. This post is not an attempt to bash anyone that has left a less than favourable review for my work or anyone else’s.This post is designed to help fellow authors cope with bad reviews. I have to include this disclaimer because this subject might be perceived as ‘spicy’ and if I don’t, my Goodreads ratings will go even lower…
Its not a nice feeling when someone leaves a bad review for our work. It can straight up hurt and that’s more than okay because our books are a labour of love, time and effort. For someone to say negative things about it can feel like a personal attack and leave an author spinning for days while also questioning themselves. Feeling bad and every other emotion that comes with a bad review is totally normal. Remember that.
Ahead are hopefully some pointers and a few truths that will help any wordsmith deal with the inevitable because for every author receiving a glowing review, there will be another receiving the opposite.
1. Be Aware…
This is aimed for newer authors and has a bunch of inputs, but after publishing that book, your writing is no longer just a hobby and your presence on social media is now one of a public figure. Whether you like that or not is kind of irrelevant because being published puts you in the public domain. This means that as an author you now stand in the spotlight inside a glass house. Anyone can throw stones at you, and if you give them a reason to, they will, trust me. You see that disclaimer up there, yeah I put that in to cover my ass in case someone gets precious and decides to defend anyone who has ever left a bad review – your actions online can draw unwanted negativity sometimes, even if your intentions were good.
What do I mean by this? Social media and the internet can be a volatile place and now you have a book out there, it is vulnerable also. Because of that, its time to consider your conduct online. Me; I have a pretty comfortable seat on the fence in most of my social media endeavours and I make every effort to be inclusive, decent and supportive. This will go a long way to preventing certain stones being thrown and I would even go as far as saying some negative reviews are simply a reaction to something you may have said online. That’s why I have that comfortable seat and I tend not to react to any major news subjects or any polarising political situations – these things will always be happening and providing an escape from them works for me.
Of course there are many great causes out there that authors have every right to stand for but remember social media can be a volatile place where someone might not agree with you all the time so be mindful and be aware.
2. They are Inevitable…
While being aware and conducting yourself in a certain way are great preventative measures, bad reviews unfortunately are inevitable. If your work sells enough it will be discovered by someone who doesn’t like it. Any author who has been around a while and sold a bunch of books will tell you this. So think of it as a baptism. Your writing has done enough to at least stir a reaction, even if it is not so great and you are now part of the club!
3. Is it Worth the Time?
Time for me is valuable. I can get a lot done with my time, from social media posts, blog posts, editing to even exercise so ask yourself if the review is worth your time? Those star ratings without an explanation – there isn’t really much to digest there so why spend time thinking about it?
I’m quite selective when it comes to where I read the reviews I receive. Goodreads is a place where I only focus on the statistics and not really the content of the reviews. Amazon is way more important to me so I tend to read the reviews I get on there. Even then if the review is negative with zero constructive feedback I’ll tend to just move on.
4. Is it Constructive?
Speaking of feedback, does the review help you in any way? Anyone can claim to be an editor if they spot a simple typo or even a spelling error. Even pro published books have those. US and UK spelling does differ sometimes and some reviewers won’t be aware of that. If there is something constructive you can get from the review then to me its really a positive one in disguise – remember sometimes the truth can hurt and we are all human so mistakes happen.
5. What’s the Value?
I’m going to confide in you here while also stating that I appreciate everyone who has made the effort to review my work but I can count on just one hand the amount of reviews that shaped my future works or had any real constructive feedback and for this I consider myself lucky. This is the case with positive reviews also and while we all love a compliment, what does that actually provide us with? Speaking truthfully, there is normally zero personal value in a review – good or bad they help sell future books and sometimes they need to be looked at just that way because…
6. A Rating is a Rating…
Above all, even if the review is down right insulting, a rating is a rating and proof of readership. Someone out there in that vast busy world of constant content found your book. Good or bad if they were thoughtful enough to rate it, then somewhere deep down there was something in that book which meant something to them.
Side note: If the review is abusive or even a personal attack, you might have grounds to report it and get it taken down. I’ve done this before.
If you were to purchase my self help guide book for indie authors and bloggers you’ll find there is a whole section dedicated to reviews and dealing with them.
7. Can You Spin it?
Some years ago, one of my newly released books received a low rating that kind of came out of nowhere. I forget the name of the book blogger but I confided in my social media following and managed to spin that review into a bunch of sales and positive reviews from some friends in the writing community. As long as you are decent, it’s okay to confide in your following, they might swing in to help you.
It will feel better tomorrow and much like that struggle for reviews you feel sometimes, the best thing to do in order to cope is to focus your energy elsewhere. Of course its okay to vent but do it with tact and confide in others because you’ll be surprised by how many bad review stories authors have. Use this post as a reference to when the inevitable happens and of course vent below if you wish because this will always be a safe space for creatives. How do you deal with bad reviews?
Thanks for reading.This post originally premiered on Patreon where all of my guides are available to Patrons first before they make their way onto here. For information on my Patreon which aims to guide and help fellow creatives click here.